Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians made it clear over the offseason that the team had no interest in signing Antonio Brown. Months later, the Buccaneers shocked the NFL by agreeing to terms with the former Pro Bowl receiver. Fox Sports Jay Glazier spoke with Arians about his decision to change course on Brown and the biggest factor was the mounting injuries to the Bucs receiving core.
“This was pretty unlikely going into the season,” Glazier explained. “He [Antonio Brown] has a history with Bruce Arians, and it’s not a great history. Actually, just got off the phone with Bruce [Arians]. Early on, when Tom Brady signed with the Bucs he did bring up Antonio Brown, and back then, Bruce Arians told him an emphatic no unless their wide receiver core got injured. What’s happened? Godwin’s been hurt. Mike Evans has been hurt. Obviously, tight end O.J. Howard went down. So, that changed things, according to Bruce, he said ‘I was open to it if guys were banged up, and, well, all our guys were banged up.'”
Both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans have been able to bounce back from injuries, but the move to sign Brown indicates neither player is likely playing at 100 percent. Brown is eligible to play for the Buccaneers in Week 9 in their divisional rematch with the Saints. It will be worth watching how involved Brown is in the Buccaneers offense given his familiarity with Tom Brady.
Arians Previously Said Brown to the Bucs Was ‘Not Going to Happen’
Arians coached Brown in Pittsburgh and has not given the receiver glowing reviews since they went their separate ways. Brady’s influence likely played a key role in Arians’ decision to change his mind. During a March interview on the Tiki and Tierney Show, Arians was emphatic about Brown noting “it’s not going to happen” with the Buccaneers.
“Yeah, it’s not going to happen,” Arians explained, via Pro Football Rumors. “It’s just not going to happen. There’s no room and probably not enough money. But it’s just not going to happen. It’s not a fit here.”
The Bucs Wanted to ‘Act Fast’ Given the Competition to Sign A.B.
There had been some skepticism that Brown would land another opportunity after three teams decided to part ways with the receiver in a one-year span. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Buccaneers wanted to “act fast” given the competition to sign Brown. The Seahawks had been one of the teams vocal about their interest in the receiver.
“Bucs did extensive homework on Antonio Brown, had lots of time to think about a potential deal while Brown served his suspension,” Fowler tweeted. “Knowing Seattle or other teams could be a factor, Tampa acted fast in the last few days.”
ESPN’s Jenna Laine reported the Buccaneers made the move believing Arians was “strong enough to handle” Brown’s personality.
“The feeling inside the organization is Arians’ personality is strong enough to handle him,” Laine detailed. “Arians has never had a problem giving anyone a piece of his mind — as seen by his expletive-filled tirades in practice — and he coached Brown with the Steelers.”